First time reading? Start at the beginning here.
Tidal Wave was slumped in the back of a police car, his cheek pressed against the smooth glass window. The sedative hadn’t completely knocked him out yet, but it was close. His eyelids felt like they weighed five pounds each, and the movements of the car seemed to rock him to sleep. He was taken off guard, then, when another car crashed into them.
The next thing he knew, he was lying across the back seat. Muffled shouts and gunshots came from outside, but he was only vaguely interested in their cause. Certainly not interested enough to lift his head and see what was going on. No, that would be way too much effort. He rested against the seat cushion and drifted off.
The car door opened, and Tidal Wave was just coherent enough to recognize the person who opened it as a junior member of the Tsubaki Syndicate. Hey, I know that guy, he thought happily. Then he passed out.
When Tidal Wave woke up, he was in someone’s guest bedroom. His mouth was as dry as Death Valley and tasted like the corpse of an animal that had died there. A glass of water sat on the bedside table, and he downed it greedily. After he’d emptied it, a droplet trickling from the side of his mouth down his chin, he took stock and realized he had no idea where he was and probably shouldn’t be drinking things that were possibly drugged.
He got out of bed, finding himself still in his suit. Well, that was something. At least he wasn’t naked. He opened the bedroom door slowly, cautious in case it creaked, and crept into the hallway. Familiar voices speaking Japanese reached his ears, and he straightened up and stopped creeping. He followed the voices down the hallway and found the speakers in the living room, sitting around a coffee table laden with cups of tea.
He’d expected most of the faces that turned to look at him, but not that of Evelyn Sakai.
“Sakai-sama.” He gaped, wondering if the water had contained some kind of hallucinogenic after all. “How— You’re dead. I saw your body.”
The Fox Woman sat with her legs crossed, a cigarette poised between two of her elegant fingers. An ash tray on the coffee table held the stubs of two others. “You and the others saw what the Black Valentine wanted you to see,” she said.
“The Black Valentine?”
“Sit down.” The Fox Woman gestured at an open chair. “Have some tea.”
Tidal Wave sank dazedly into the chair, and Distortion appeared with a rustling of skirts to offer a cup of steaming tea. He took it and drank, barely registering how it scalded his tongue.
“I’ve already gone over this twice while you were out,” the Fox Woman said, “so forgive me if I just give you the short version. Blueblood was plotting to kill me and replace me with Leo.”
Tidal Wave jerked, sloshing hot tea onto his hand, and swore. Those bastards.
“Blueblood’s dead now,” the Fox Woman continued smoothly. “And that idiot son of mine is in jail. I’ll give them points for ambition, but they made the mistake of threatening the Black Valentine into doing their dirty work. She came to me beforehand, and the two of us reached an agreement.”
“I never saw your corpse,” Tidal Wave said slowly. “She just made me think I did.”
The Fox Woman nodded. “Useful things, telepaths. I really have to get one for this organization.” She sucked on her cigarette thoughtfully. “And I’m sorry for the deception, but I needed Leo and Blueblood to be absolutely convinced I was dead.”
He shook his head. As if she needed to apologize to him. “Then the alliance is over?”
“I’ll stay on friendly terms with the Belmontes.” She exhaled smoke. “But we’ve agreed there’s no need for our working relationship to be so close.”
“So what now?”
“So what now?” she repeated incredulously, lowering the cigarette from her lips as she raised her eyebrows. “Didn’t you hear me? Blueblood is dead. His people are already breaking up into factions, and the power vacuum on the east coast is practically a black hole.”
She pushed the butt of her cigarette into the ashtray, smothering it.
“What now?” She grinned, foxlike. “Now, we go to work.”
Happy New Year, super readers! I hope your 2018 is getting off to a better start than mine, since I’m ringing in the new year with an awful cold. Seriously, I feel miserable. 😦
Speaking of feeling miserable, next week will be the final update of Fight Crime! (A Love Story). I think I’ll put up a poll or something and ask all of your opinions on what I should do now that it’s over, so start thinking about what you’d like to see on this website.